Alfred Ely Beach: Difference between revisions

→‎Invention of a subway: Added important content of historical value.
(→‎Early years: Added forgotten inventions of great historic importance to American civil engineering.)
Tags: Mobile edit Mobile web edit
(→‎Invention of a subway: Added important content of historical value.)
Tags: Mobile edit Mobile web edit
==Invention of a subway==
Beach's most famous invention was [[New York City]]'s first [[rapid transit|subway]], the [[Beach Pneumatic Transit]].<ref>Most, Doug, ''The Race Underground: Boston, New York, and the incredible rivalry that built America's first subway'' (New York: St. Martin's Press, 2014), {{ISBN|9780312591328}}.</ref> This idea came about during the late 1860s, when traffic in New York was a nightmare, especially along the central artery, [[Broadway (Manhattan)|Broadway]]. Beach was one of a few visionaries who proposed building an underground railway under Broadway to help relieve the traffic congestion. The inspiration was the underground [[Metropolitan Railway]] in [[London]] but in contrast to that and others' proposals for New York, Beach proposed the use of trains propelled by [[pneumatics]] instead of conventional [[Steam locomotive|steam engines]], and construction using a [[tunnelling shield]] of his invention<ref name="Copperthwaite20">{{cite book|last1=Copperthwaite|first1=William Charles|title=Tunnel shields and the use of compressed air in subaqueous works|date=1906|publisher=Van Nostrand Co.|location=New York|page=20|edition=1|url=|accessdate=21 May 2018}}</ref> to minimize disturbing the street.<ref name=walker>James Blaine Walker, "Fifty Years of Rapid Transit / 1864 to 1917". New York: The Law Printing Company, 1918.</ref>
It should also be noted here that Mr Beach used a circular design based upon Brunel's rectangular shield and may represent the shift in design from rectangular to cylindrical. [[Barlow]] patented an idea for a similar design in London in 1864, followed by [[James Henry Greathead]]'s patented mechanized invention in the same era. It has not until now been understood when or who transitioned tunneling shield design from rectangular to circular until evidence was seen in a New York news article from 1870 of the original Beach Tunnelling Shield.
Beach was also interested in [[pneumatic tube]]s for the transport of letters and packages, another idea recently put into use in London.<ref name=beach_pneumatic>Alfred E Beach, "The Pneumatic Dispatch". New York: The American News Company, 1868.</ref> With a franchise from the state he began construction of a tunnel for small pneumatic tubes in 1869, but diverted it into a demonstration of a passenger railway that opened on February 26, 1870.<ref name=beach_opening>"Scientific American", Mar 5, 1870.</ref> To build a passenger railway he needed a different franchise, something he lobbied for over four legislative sessions, 1870 to 1873. Construction of the tunnel was obvious from materials being delivered to Warren St near Broadway, and was documented in newspaper reports, but Beach kept all details secret until the [[New York Tribune]] published a possibly planted article a few weeks before opening.<ref name=tribune>"New York Tribune", Jan 11, 1870.</ref>